Trinity faces 'all out' strike at Coventry Newspapers

By Sarah Lagan

NUJ journalists at Trinity Mirror’s Coventry Newspapers have
declared an “all out” strike from Monday.

Trinity Mirror chief executive Sly Bailey has responded to a letter
from NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear and as a result the company’s
regional human
resources director Alan Fitzgerald has arranged to meet Coventry
Newspapers NUJ MoC Barbara Goulden and  NUJ vice president Chris
Morley.

The Bolton Evening News chapel was the last paper to have taken indefinite strike action a year ago, again over pay.

The
NUJ claims that before that, no paper had done so since 1989, when the
Aberdeen Press & Journal and Essex Chronicle chapels were in
dispute over union recognition.

The 43 CN journalists on strike
want Trinity to “honour its promise” for a competency-based pay
structure by January, claiming the company had pledged to agree the
system by April this year. Trinity says it will not be able to
introduce the system until May 2006.

MoC Barbara Goulden said:
“Members are furious that it will take so long when this improved pay
system, based on average local pay levels, was promised at least to be
agreed by this April.”

A Coventry Newspapers spokesman said: “We
believe that given the amount of work that needs to be done to design
and implement the system, May 2006 is a reasonable launch date and we
are keen to work with the NUJ to achieve that.

“The NUJ is seeking its introduction from January, which is an almost impossible target.

“We
are further hampered in making progress as we need to discuss the
design and operation of the scheme with the NUJ, but are unable to do
so while it is taking industrial action.”

Meanwhile Trinity
Mirror and the NUJ have clashed over claims the company has cut back on
editorial content because of the strike action by CN journalists.

A
leak to the NUJ revealed that a member of the publisher’s staff had
sent out a memo stating: “Coventry Newspapers is in the middle of an
industrial dispute with some of its journalistic team and it has
allowed us to offer some of the space usually reserved for editorial.
To ensure we fill this empty space we are discounting our usual rates
significantly.”

But a CN spokesman refuted the claim: “We
categorically have not reduced the amount of editorial space or number
of editorial pages, nor have we needed to cut rates to attract
advertisers.

The email the NUJ refers to was factually incorrect and should not have gone out.”

● Journalists at Johnston Press’s Sheffield Newspapers are taking action short of a strike over staffing levels.

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